On this day: American Ballet Theatre

time-kirk Time Magazine Gelsey Kirkland American Ballet Theatre 1sy May 1978

Gelsey Kirkland, star of American Ballet Theatre, is seen here as Kitri in Don Quixote on the cover of TIME Magazine on the 1st of May, 1978. Kirkland, whose professional career began with New York City Ballet at only fifteen, moved to ABT in 1974, where she found fame dancing with Soviet ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov.

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On this day: a Ballet Premiere

Michaël Denard (James) et Ghislaine Thesmar (La Sylphide) entourés des « filles de l_air » lors du tournage du ballet en 1971 © Francette Levieux OnP

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The romantic ballet La Sylphide premiered in Paris on the 12th of March, 1832. The ballet was created by Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni as a showcase for his ballerina daughter Marie, the dancer generally credited with being the first to ever dance en pointe.

As the original production was lost, French choreographer Pierre Lacotte used old records and images to recreate a new production for the Paris Opera in the 1970s.

This promotional photograph by Francette Levieux is from the revival. It features Michaël Denard as James and Ghislaine Thesmar in the title role. Thesmar is the wife of Lacotte.

On this day: A new generation of ballet stars

Photograph caption dated March 2, 1986 reads, The new generation of ABT dancers (from left) Gil Boggs, Amanda McKerrow, John Turjoman and Bonnie Moore. American Ballet Theatre

This photograph, dated the 2nd of March, 1986, was released to the media to introduce “the new generation of American Ballet Theatre stars”.

Pictured are Gil Boggs, Amanda McKerrow, John Turjoman and Bonnie Moore.

A 1985 interview with Turjoman and Moore, where they discuss interpreting Romeo and Juliet as very young dancers, can be read HERE.

McKerrow went on to be known as one of the greatest ballerinas in the history of ABT.

On this day: Ballet in 1956

The Borovansky Ballet, an Australian company that was a pioneer for major dance companies in the country today, as featured in the Australian Women’s Weekly on the 8th of February, 1956. The images are from their production of The Nutcracker.
Borovansky Ballet's Nutcracker published in The Australian Women_s Weekly 8th February 1956.

On this day: the premiere of Foyer de Danse

foyer-de-danse Alicia Markova, seen here at left in Frederick Ashton_s Foyer de Danse at the fledgling British company Ballet Club (1932).

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Foyer de Danse, a ballet by English choreographer Frederick Ashton, had its premiere on the 9th of October, 1932.

This footage (begins 24 seconds in) from the 1932 production features Ashton alongside English prima ballerina Alicia Markova (born Lilian Alice Marks):

Ashton would go on to become one of ballet’s best-known choreographers. His productions of ballets such as Cinderella and La fille mal gardée are still seen onstage at the Royal Opera House on a regular basis.

On this day: the birth of a theatre star

Fred & Adele Astaire. circa 1906. The photograph is a publicity photograph illustrating Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire in a vaudeville act entitled A Rainy Saturday.

Fred and Adele Astaire, circa 1906.

Adele Astaire, stage star and sister of her movie star brother, Fred, was born in Omaha, Nebraska on the 10th of September, 1896. Her birth name was Adele Marie Austerlitz, but the surname was changed to make her sound more “American”. As a child, she and her brother moved to New York to attend the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts.

Publicity photograph of Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire in 1921.

In 1921

Three years Fred’s senior, Adele was actually the more successful stage performer of the two siblings. However her brother went on to find Hollywood fame, and while Adele considered moving into film, she abandoned the plan, admitting to being intimidated by her brother.

Astaire married twice (her first husband died in this thirties), and had three children. She was considered the more personable of the two siblings.

She died in January of 1981, at the age of eighty-four.